Thursday, 30 June 2016

World of Tanks History Section: Pattons in Korea

In February of 1945, American forces in Europe received the Pershing tank. The reaction of the soldiers was positive: finally, something to fight Tigers and Panthers! The application of Pershings in combat was fairly successful, but there were some complaints about the new tank, one of which was about the poor mobility.

Engineers proposed a new hydromechanical transmission and a new engine. The modernized variant went through trials and was accepted into service under the name M46 Patton. The initial plan was to not only build new Patton tanks, but modernize already existing Pershings. However, the Second World War ended and demobilization began, putting an end to this program. As a result, when the United States entered the Korean War on the side of the south, it turned out that they were seriously lacking in vehicles.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Teletank Battalion

"To the Chief of the Main Auto-Armoured Directorate of the Red Army, Lieutenant-General comrade Fedorenko

According to your orders, I report on the condition of the 51st OTB.

The 51st OTB has:
  1. Functional control tanks with guns and machineguns: 31
  2. Functional teletanks with chemical weapons: 28
    The battalion can provide 28 groups (56 tanks).
    The chemical weapons can emit flame, smoke, or poison terrain.
    Control tanks have a reduced ammunition capacity compared to regular tanks. 
    1. Regular tanks: 165 shells, 58 machinegun magazines
    2. Control tanks: 96 shells, 46 machinegun magazines.
      Teletanks have one DT machinegun.
  3. All tanks are functional and running (100-150 engine hours expended).

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

I am Rubber, You are Glue

"For rapid transfer of enemy experience of materials and designs in the field of rubber into domestic production, I propose that the People's Commissar of Rubber Production be given the following samples"

Monday, 27 June 2016

Tiger Manual

"
Translated from German.
Supreme Command of the Land Forces
4300/43 Secret
October 30th, 1943

Combat training instruction #14
Usage of PzKpfw VI Tiger tanks

Rules were composed based on summarized experience of units that used the PzKpfw VI Tiger tank in recent battles.

1. Vulnerability of the tank

The frequently displayed opinion about the invulnerability of the PzKpfw VI is a mistake, and often leads to improper use of the Tiger tank, which causes excessive losses.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Krupp Leichttraktor: Rival with no Future

During the First World War, a special technical commission presided over all German tank development, headed by General Friedrichs. The commission appointed a captain from the automobile forces, Joseph Vollmer, to direct design work. When Germany lost the ability to develop and produce tanks after the war, a part of their engineers left the country and began building tanks for other nations. However, several years later, work on new vehicles resumed, and companies who were left during WWI had their chance. The Krupp conglomerate was one of those companies.

LK.II Reimagined

Founded in Hessen in the early 19th century, the Krupp steel casting company turned into a manufacturing giant by the end of the century. Its armament, especially cannons, quickly became one of the most important products of the quickly growing company. By the start of WWI, 140,000 people were working for Krupp in Hessen. This was a true manufacturing army, capable of supplying the Kaiser with a weapon of any caliber, in any numbers.

Naturally, Krupp couldn't walk by such a promising novelty as tanks. The German A7V was built with hulls built, in part, in Hessen. It is expected that Krupp would wish to build its own tanks in house. This possibility arose when work on the LK (Leichter Kampfwagen) light tank began in 1917. Krupp united its efforts with Daimler and challenged Captain Vollmer.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Rheinmetall's Fighting Tractor

German tanks of the first half of the 20th century are commonly associated with Tigers and Panthers, light and medium "Panzers" designed in the 1930s, and the first German tank, the A7V. Meanwhile, the work of German tank designers in the 1920s remains in obscurity, although many interesting designs were developed during that time. For various reasons, German designers were forced to work abroad. Nevertheless, secret work on domestic tanks began in Germany in the late 1920s. One of those tanks was the Leichttraktor.

Small and Smaller

According to the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was forbidden from developing and producing armament and military vehicles, including tanks. Engineers in that field left Germany and began working in other countries. This explains why German tank design skipped over the various cadavers that were built in other countries. German engineers worked on these dead end designs while foreign money paid for it. Nevertheless, this could not continue forever, and sooner or later, work had to start in Germany.

Friday, 24 June 2016

World of Tanks History Section: Grenade Launchers

In late 1943, news of a new dangerous German anti-tank weapon started coming in from the front lines: handheld grenade launchers. In the hands of a trained user, this weapon was no less dangerous than a shell from a cannon. Soon, the Faustpatrone themselves fell into Soviet hands. When available information reached critical mass, Soviet command decided to hurry its engineers in development of close range weapons.

This task was formally announced in February of 1944 during a special GAU meeting. High Command agreed: development and mass production of anti-tank grenade launchers for the Red Army was an urgent and important task. Among others, KB-30 answered the call, a previous developer of rifle grenades. Here is what they achieved.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Ampulomets For Dummies

Wargaming's article on improvised artillery classifies the Ampulomet, a gun that fired a sphere filled with incendiary fluid, as an anti-tank weapon. Apparently, the device's users had other ideas.

"In a series of military units, the reputation of ampulomets is being sabotaged by incorrect application in battle. Despite multiple instructions by GABTU pointing out that fact that the impact detonated ampules are to be used as an anti-tank weapon and can only be used by blocking groups as a method of defeating enemy emplacements, the latter can only be achieved in a fortunate situation with lengthy training. This secondary objective is being set as the main one.

Via kris-reid.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Mighty AA Cupola

The MG 151/20 in a Maus MG cupola might seem mighty, but the Soviets can do one better.


"Due to the absence of a DShK cupola on the main turret, a turret from a BA-10 was installed with a 45 mm gun and three-line DT machinegun."

While the text conjures up hilarious Mauschen-esque images, the reality was a bit more boring: the turret was installed on a project 1124 armoured boat.

Via niemirow-41.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

KV Production Timeframes

"NKSM
State Order of Lenin Izhor Factory
January 21st, 1941

Production data for 1940:
  • KV turrets (cast): 4
  • KV turrets (75 mm): 7 in the first quarter
Average amount of workers:
  • In 1939: 12,293
  • In 1940 (plan): 13,700
  • Actual: 13,424
75 mm thick KV hull and turret:
Actual proficiency timeline:
  • May 1940: development of working blueprints.
  • June 1940: development of the technological mass production process.
  • August 1939: production of an experimental prototype.
Transition to mass production:
  • January 1940: confirmation and development of technical conditions, stamps, instruments, and devices.
  • February 1940: production of stamps, instruments, and devices.
  • January 1940: development of casting and forging for mass production.
  • Production of first batch planned for 1st quarter."

Monday, 20 June 2016

IS-3 in Combat

Continued from part 1.

Trial by Combat

The first time IS-3 tanks took part in any fighting was in Hungary, in 1958. A Soviet military force was maintained there to keep communications with forces stationed in Austria. In 1955, the troops in Austria were withdrawn, and in May of that same year Hungary joined the Warsaw Pact. The Soviet troops remained, now as allies, under the name "Special Corps". It included the 2nd and 17th Guards Mechanized Divisions, 195th Fighter and 172nd Bomber Air Divisions, and auxiliary units. There were no Soviet forces within the capital, Budapest.

In 1954, the authorized strength of a division included three mechanized regiments, a tank regiment, and a heavy SPG regiment. Such a division contained 46 heavy tanks. In the mid 1950s, the most numerous heavy tanks in the Soviet Army were IS-2s and IS-3.

On October 23rd, 1956, a 200,000 strong protest occurred in Budapest, initially peacefully. The Hungarians demanded the replacement of unpopular leadership who were promoting social and economic policies pushed by Moscow.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

IS-3: The Tank with a Piked Nose

The order to produce a new tank under the index IS-3 was received by Chelyabinsk factory management on December 16th, 1944. By January 25th, 1945, eight of the ten planned tanks had to be built. It took a fairly long time to build and "tune" the tanks, and they arrived in the army only by the time that the Second World War was at an end.

Goals Set by War

Spun once, the flywheel of Soviet design bureaus built up an unseen inertia by the time the war was coming to an end. Designers in Siberia, the Urals, and on the Volga overtook their colleagues in allied and enemy countries. While the first IS-2 tanks were just driving out of the Kirov Factory in Chelyabinsk (ChKZ), the design bureaus of ChKZ and factory #100 already received order #5583 from the State Committee of Defense on April 8th, 1944: design a new heavy tank. An analysis of tanks from early 1944 showed that Tigers could penetrate the cast front plate of early IS-2s from 1000-1200 meters and the Panthers could do it from 900-1000 meters. It was necessary to increase the protection of the IS-2 so that the front of the hull and turret as well as the side of the turret and the turret platform were impenetrable to German shells.

The ChKZ design bureau, headed by N.K. Dukhov and M.F. Balzhi, began its work. Their competitors from factory #100, headed by G.N. Moskvin and V.I. Tarotko also did not sit still.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

World of Tanks History Section: Defense of Fastov

The aim to return what was lost in battle with a swift and powerful counterattack is common to any army. However, one must remember that haste is only necessary when hunting fleas and will lead to no good in war. This is what happened to the first German counterattacks at Fastov.

On November 7th, the Red Army took this important road junction about 70 km south-west of Kiev. Tankers of P.S. Rybalko's 3rd Guards Tank Army delivered serious damage to their enemy and captured many trophies: vehicles, fuel, supplies. On that same day, the German command ordered the 25th Tank Division to retake Fastov. The division's actions are a canonical example of haste.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Garford-Putilovets

Armoured Garford Car equipped with 3 inch anti-assault gun designed by the Putilov factory and two machineguns.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Minor Redesign

Having finally found the "insert jump break" button on the UI, I decided to make the layout of the site a little bit more friendly for my readers by collapsing recent articles, as I will keep doing in the future. I also increased the minimum width of the content, since I figure that a lot fewer of you are still using netbooks with 800x600 screens than when I started this blog. Hopefully this will make some of my tables less cramped.

This should improve your experience, but let me know what you think.

Cheating at Statistics 14: Deception at Danzig

I already touched on the 503rd SS Heavy Tank Battalion's questionable claims, but it seems that his battalion ran into some IS-2s before Korner's alleged actions, or at least claimed that they did. Let's take a look at these claims. Achtungpanzer (the website, not the book) paints an impressive picture:

"During the combat in Gdansk (Oliwa and Wrzeszcz districts) and Sopot, SS-Untersturmführer Karl Brommann (commander of the 1st Company) destroyed 65 tanks and self-propelled guns along with 44 artillery pieces and 15 vehicles (including some T-34s from 1st Polish Tank Brigade "Heroes of the Westerplatte"). Following his outstanding score, Brommann was awarded with Knights Cross."

Schneider's Tigers in Combat II gives some more details of these actions:

"26 March 1945: Several attacks are repelled, and six Josef Stalin tanks are knocked out. One Josef Stalin, which was captured by Sturmgeschuetz-Brigade 190, is put under German command; when it becomes non-operational, it is finally sunk in the harbor."

Oliwa and the nearby suburb of Sopot are mentioned, pinning the location of the regiment pretty precisely. There is nothing about the total tank claims here, but at least we get some specifics: seven total lost IS-2 tanks on March 26th. Let's take a look at who these tanks could have belonged to.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Looting

"9th Tank Division
HQ, October 12th, 1941

Divisional order #245(E)

2. Knocked-out tanks

One occurrence gives a basis to state the following: on September 17th, 1941, a tank was knocked out at Gorodishe. The men not only did not preserve the personal property of the dead and wounded in the tank, but rifled through everything on the tank including folders and files, their contents haphazardly strewn about, and took many necessary things.

This event demonstrates not only a lack of brotherhood but also a lack of discipline demonstrated in theft that does not serve to improve the relationship between brothers in arms.

I demand that all unit commanders instruct their units that nothing must be taken without orders from abandoned, knocked out, or broken down tanks or cars. If these tanks are within the area of responsibility of a unit, it is their job to guard them.

Signed, Doctor Gubiki
1st Battalion, 10th Motorized Infantry
Battalion command post, October 30th, 1941

FYI. Report on the execution of this order by 18:00 on October 30th, 1941.

Translated by Technician-Intendant 1st Grade, Goryemykina."

CAMD RF 202-50-42

Monday, 13 June 2016

Establishment of Anti-Tank Artillery

"Order of the People's Commissar of Defense of the USSR #0528
July 1st, 1942
Moscow

In order to improve the quality of fighting enemy tanks, creation and accumulation of tank destroyer artillerymen, improvement of their skills, and separation from other kinds of artillery, I order that:

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Object 257: The First IS-7

The IS-7 heavy tank is well known to armour enthusiasts. A combination of impressive armour, a powerful gun, and an engine that could propel the 70 ton tank at 60 kph made it the pinnacle of its class. At the same time, no less than 7 vehicles existed under the IS-7 index, and three of them were called "Object 260". The creation of this vehicle is shrouded in mystery, partially due to the conditions of secrecy created at the factory #100 design bureau. Thanks to recently discovered archive materials, we can now see how the IS-7 (back then, still Object 257) developed in its early stages.


Friday, 10 June 2016

IS-7, Take One

Most literature refers to the IS-7 as one tank, but this is far from the truth. Like many tanks, the IS-7 underwent a long and complicated development path, which started out with something completely alien to anyone familiar with the end result: Object 257.


The first thing you might notice is the suspension. Since there was not enough room for torsion bars in the hull, the designers used volute springs in a layout somewhat similar to the Sherman. The gun is not the 130 mm S-70 yet, it's only a 122 mm gun with a 1000 m/s muzzle velocity. The front armour of this beast was 150 mm at 60 degrees. The turret was almost impenetrable; the limit of damaging the rear surface (far from complete penetration) with its own gun was point blank.

World of Tanks History Section: Taming the Panthers

On January 26th, 1944, the second day of the Korsun-Shevchenkovo Offensive, the contours of the pocket in which Army Group Center would be caught in were already being drawn on the map. The German response was a powerful counterattack in the zone of the Soviet 2nd Ukrainian Front. If it was successful, P. Rotmistrov's 5th Guards Tank army would be encircled instead of the Germans.

In this battle on the snowy fields of the Ukraine, shiny new Panthers from the 1st battalion of the 26th tank regiment were supposed to be the ace up the German sleeve. Even though the unit only entered battle on January 28th, its adventures started much earlier, on the way to the USSR.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Cheating at Statistics: Across the Front Lines

 As my "Cheating at Statistics" series grows more and more popular, I read more and more complaints that surely it must have been those sneaky Russians lying in their own documents, for the noble German soldiers could not have been wrong! However, Joachim Peiper's recollection of events seems to discredit that idea.

"The one who quietly and bravely did his duty caused no comment and in his seclusion remained the fool. The one however, who did a lot of hollering, making an elephant out of every attacking mouse was officially commended and on top of it received quick aid in cases of emergency. Untrue reporting is an innermost disease of any army and must always lead to a false estimate of the situation and to wrong conclusions.

In the course of time the command realized that of many front line reports, 50% should be disregarded. Since however this procedure had no bearing on the actual situation, many a small honest commander was expected to do tasks which were sheer madness and which had to shake the confidence in his superior. At first the orders wore followed, ­later on one was satisfied with the telephone report of fictitious combat accounts."

The entire article, which is available here, is a very interesting read. While full of typical "Asiatic hordes" nonsense, it begrudgingly accepts that the Red Army was effective in both attack and defense and that the tactics and weapons it used were quite effective.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

ChTZ KV Startup

"List of questions connected with the new vehicle
  1. Organizational questions:
    1. Keeping independent paperwork, caused by:
      1. Changes to blueprints caused by varying manufacturing processes.
      2. Need to issue blueprints to plants and regularly replace worn ones.
    2. The right to make changes to blueprints at ChTZ that do not impact the interchangeability of parts (after approval from the military representative).
    3. Full and timely exchange of technical materials between ChTZ and Kirov factory (full time representatives, proper communication and answers).
  2. Unclear design elements:
    1. What gun will be installed in 1941, and what parts does it use?
    2. The L-11 gun was installed in 1940, but the Kirov factory has not sent out any samples (the military representative informed us on October 3rd, 1940, that according to comrade Vorobeichik from NKSM, 3 units are on the way) and its parts are unknown to ChTZ.
    3. ChTZ does not have blueprints approved by GABTU for 1940 or 1941.
  3. Help needed with:
    1. A production manager for assembly of components (Mirkin is not enough).
    2. Replacement tables for hardened steels.
  4. When discussing design changes, deadlines are necessary for both Kirov factory and ChTZ.
  5. GABTU (or the Kirov factory military representative) does not inform ChTZ of necessary changes. There are no staff in military acceptance to handle KV production, immediate help is needed (3 engineers and 2 technicians).
Chief of the 3rd Department of GABTU, Military Engineer 1st Grade, Rokhmachev."

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Real Matilda I, Continued

Somehow, in English language armoured history, the index "Matilda I" managed to latch onto the Infantry Tank MkI despite some evidence to the contrary. Interestingly enough, this never happened in Russian literature. Here is a page from the Tankomaster magazine, February 1991 edition, listing the A indices of various British tanks.

Holding up this list against the Wikipedia one, it seems identical... almost. In this list, the A11 is not a Matilda, only "Infantry Tank MkI". Soviet wartime documents would have still been classified, meaning that the "nameless" MkI had to have come from an English source. Several other traits hint to this, including referring to the engine on the A16 as "Nuffield Liberty" (contemporary Soviet sources just called it "Liberty") and the transliterations rather than translations of "Centaur", "Cromwell", and "Tortoise".

Monday, 6 June 2016

Soviet Intel on British Tanks

"Notes:
  1. The tanks MkI (infantry), MkI (cruiser) and light MkVII are made in negligible amounts. The first two appear to have been removed from production entirely.
  2. The main types of tanks are the MkIV and MkIVa cruiser tanks (the tanks vary in only small details). The precursor to the MkIV, the MkIII cruiser tank (built in small numbers) differs only in the shape of the turret and potentially has thinner armour.
  3. The latest tanks are the MkIII infantry tank (built on the basis of the MkII cruiser tank) and the light tank MkVII.
  4. In British media, the infantry tank MkIIa is called "Matilda" and the infantry tank MkIII is called "Valentine".
  5. Cruiser tanks MkI and MkII and the infantry tank MkIII are from the same family of tanks.
  6. Cruiser tanks are from the medium tank weight class, infantry tanks can be medium or heavy depending on their weight."

Commenters from a previous article may note that while the Infantry Tank MkII bears the name "Matilda", the Infantry Tank MkI does not. 


Sunday, 5 June 2016

Tetrarch in the USSR

The British light Tetrarch tank is most often remembered in connection with the landing in Normandy. While it was the first tank used for this purpose, initially the Tetrarch was designed for something else. The adventures of the Tetrarch in the British army are well known, unlike the use of the tank in the Red Army. That story is still full of omissions.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

AMX 38: A Tank Between Classes

The results of the French competition for a new light tank in the mid 1930s were unclear. On one hand, the army made a deal with Renault to produce 300 light Renault ZM tanks. The tank entered service with the name Char léger Modele 1935 R,or Renault R35. A year later, the FCM 36 was accepted into service, which was more promising according to the infantry commanders. Doubt was cast on the production of the R35, but it was never cancelled, and it became the infantry's most numerous tank. Right before WWII began, the AMX 38 appeared, another tank that could have been accepted into service with the French army.

Friday, 3 June 2016

World of Tanks History Section: Udalov, from Raseiniai to Silesia

The summer of 1944 was coming to an end, but the Sandomierz foothold was still hot. The sun was beaming from above and battled raged on the ground. A German attack at dawn of August 13th failed, but the enemy started anew during the day, hoping that the long guns of the King Tigers will do their job.

Their path was blocked by IS tanks from the 71st Guards Heavy Tank Regiment. Among them was a company commanded by Senior Lieutenant V. A. Udalov. The young commander was preparing for battle without knowing that the upcoming clash would be the peak of his career which began more than three years before.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Ergonomics of the SG-122

An image of a tank with measurements? You know the drill, let's compare this baby to the Soviet ergonomics guide!


Right off the bat, the height of the fighting compartment isn't enough for the loader. The manual recommends 1750-1800 mm, but the included diagram shows that this requirement wasn't met by any WWII era tanks. 1620 mm provided by the SG-122 is still a lot, beaten only by the Churchill, the Cromwell, and the PzIII.

The line marking the bore axis is also visible in the image, which makes it easy to figure out its height: 1260 mm. This is rather high. At this height, the manual suggests that the breech should be horizontal, pointed towards the loader. However, since the M-30 howitzer uses a screw breech instead of a sliding breech as assumed by the manual, this advice doesn't really apply.

Via Yuri Pasholok.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

T-40 Roof Armour

"Minutes of a technical meeting at the Podolsk factory on January 19th, 1941, on the issue of thickening part 02-5 from 6 mm to 9 mm

Present:
  • From factory #37:
    • Bureau #1 chief, Astrov
    • Senior designer: Bogachev
  • From Ordzhonikidze factory: Zasulskiy, Svet, Golikov, Poliovskiy, Karapetyants
  • From GABTU:
    • Military Engineer 1st Grade, Belov
    • Military Engineer 3rd Grade, Minin
Decision:

Agree that the thickness of the hull roof is insufficient at 6 mm and does not provide proper robustness and precision of turret installation.

Consider it necessary to increase the thickness to 9 mm. Ordzhonikidze factory must develop blueprints of a 9 mm thick roof and turret ring by February 2nd, 1941. It is also acceptable to alter the turret ring with the condition that the turret is still compatible.

The increase in mass of 17 kg is compensated by: Ordzhonikidze factory lightening parts of the hull by 9 kg, factory #37 lightening components by 8 kg. 

In connection with the increased weight of the hull roof and turret ring, the QA hull weight will have to be changed. 

Due to changes to hull 0-10 in 1941, the hull increased in mass by 9 kg. Factory #37 takes it upon itself to reduce the weight by 4 kg by reducing the weight of its components. Podolsk factory will take the remaining 5 kg out of the weight of the hull.

[Signatures]

Belov: agreed on the condition that the overall weight of the vehicle is still 5500 kg."